It’s tense for us Brexiteers, isn’t it? We know that if the Tories don’t secure a Commons majority today then our country probably won’t end up leaving the EU at all.
Almost certainly, an alliance of pro-Remain parties would put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. They would keep him there just long enough for Remain to win a low-turnout second referendum. Many Leave voters would boycott such a vote on the grounds of it being a stitch-up that offers a choice between actually staying in the EU and virtually staying in it, just without any political representation.
So it is quite understandable that our nerves are frayed just now. But there is another way of looking at things. It is this: if you’d have offered us, back in the dog days of summer 2018, when that Chequers “turd” of a deal was unveiled, the glorious chance to secure a meaningful Brexit that we have now, we’d have bitten your arm off for it.
Looking back, it is quite clear that Theresa May was, all along, navigating towards a so-called “high alignment” relationship with the EU that would have left Britain under the thumb of Brussels. If she hadn’t screwed up the 2017 general election and instead secured a comfortable majority, such an outcome would have been impossible to stop. So thank you Nick Timothy and the Dementia Tax, all is forgiven.
The picture posted on Twitter this week of David Gauke alongside Amber Rudd mocking Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal should serve as a reminder of just how dominated May’s cabinets were by people who were apparently determined to thwart a meaningful – or as they termed it “hard” – Brexit.
In her first cabinet, Damian Green was de facto deputy PM, ‘Mr Europe‘ David Lidington was Commons leader and all the key economic portfolios were held by Remainers: Philip Hammond was chancellor, Gauke his chief secretary and Greg Clark was business secretary. Throw in Rudd as home secretary and Justine Greening as education secretary, who backed a second referendum and it becomes obvious what a stitch-up was in store for us. Theresa May hid it for a while behind her “Brexit means Brexit” guff, but it was always the Remain gang pulling the strings.
What a contrast faces us now. We have the guy who led the Leave campaign as Prime Minister. He dumped May’s deal and secured an alternative Withdrawal Agreement, which is reportedly known in Whitehall by the acronym LAD, standing for Low Alignment Deal. It points towards a free trade agreement with the EU rather than a customs union. And it really does pave the way to taking back control of our laws, borders and money.
What’s more, rather than needing to win a second referendum in the face of a huge and well-funded establishment campaign determined to keep us in, we just need the Conservatives to win a majority under First Past The Post against an almost unelectable Labour party, led by a quasi-Marxist deeply sullied by allegations of anti-Semitism and apparently unable to repeat his “Magic Grandpa” act of two years ago.
While Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is a fly in the ointment, its ratings have tumbled down to those associated with Ukip in a non-vintage year, whereas the combined share of the Lib Dems and Greens is likely to prove a much bigger barrier to Remainer hopes of securing an uplift in seats.
According to the pre-polling betting markets – which are sometimes wrong but nonetheless comprised of people putting their money where their mouths are – there is now approximately an 80 per cent chance of a Tory majority.
This is, I put it to you, an amazing turnaround in a year and a half. Even in the half a year since Farage’s Brexit party eviscerated May at the European elections (and thank you again Nigel for that perfectly timed intervention). Somebody up there must like us. So yes, today is going to be scary, heart-in-mouth territory and we will never forgive ourselves if we blow it. But one is also permitted to be very, very excited. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Brexmas!